From a segregated present to a shared future?

The Newsletter editorialises on the segregated nature of life in Northern Ireland and reckons whilst there is still some social capital remaining within rural areas, (though Sammy’s profile of Fermanagh, South Tyrone shows a distinct oil/water separation), the really tough job is in the larger urban centres where the separation often spells misery for those living next door to the ‘enemy’:

The housing segregation is most polarised in working class areas of Belfast and Londonderry and in estates in larger towns, like Portadown and Lurgan, and, quite apart from the historic sectarian dividing lines, there are still 46 walls or fences and 11 gates that prevent any integration of people from a different culture.

If breaking down such barriers is seen as a positive by the two incumbent parties, breaking down such barriers is going to be a fraught policy issue, particular in terms of planning and infrastructure.

The question comes down to whether the DUP and Sinn Fein between them have the political will to see it through and take some tough decisions now; or they will just allow a sort of benign apartheid take hold? Or might they, a longer term bet, simply rely on a combination of the passage of time, establishment of civil peace and the private housing market to take care of it for them?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty